European hurdles begin to clear for cholesterol-lowering foods

Related tags European union Europe

Marketing of cholesterol-lowering foods looks set to become easier
with European bodies publishing favourable opinions on two plant
sterol manufacturers last week.

Finnish company Teriaka, which makes the plant sterol-based Diminicol, on Friday received a favourable statement from the European Union's Standing Committee on food chain and animal health. The Standing Committee consists of representatives of member states who advise the European Commission on food safety issues.

The committee's opinion is expected to be followed by a European Commission decision allowing Diminicol in foods sold in all member countries. The ingredient can be used in yoghurts, yellow fat spreads, soft cheese and milk-based fruit drinks.

It has already been patented in the US and many other markets and earlier this year received GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status from the US Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) of the United States.

Canada's Forbes Medi-Tech also announced progress for the marketing of its ingredient Reducol in milk-based drinks in Europe. Novel foods application had been referred to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has concluded that the cholesterol-lowering ingredient can be accepted for use in foodstuffs provided that total phytosterol intakes do not exceed 3g daily.

While the FDA recently approved the use of a heart health claim for foods containing phytosterols, marketing the ingredient in Europe is much more difficult.

A member of the Paulig Group, Teriaka​ will be competing with a handful of well-established manufacturers, including Britain's Unilever Bestfoods and Teriaka's compatriot Raisio, which makes Benecol. But the company says it makes Diminicol in a different way to other sterol ingredients, avoiding the costly esterification process, which will allow the firm to compete on price when it enters the market.

In Diminicol, free plant sterols or stanols are partly dissolved in water and food fat. The manufacturing process is said to be inexpensive, with the end product easy to formulate into foods.It has been clinically proven to significantly reduce cholesterol.

Forbes Medi-Tech still needs the approval and publishing of labelling regulations for phytosterol products by the European Commission and the approval of Reducol for use in specific foods by the Commission before Reducol can be added to foods.

But the company is pinning much on the European market. Last week it began work to increase the capacity of its manufacturing joint venture by 50 per cent, in anticipation of increased demand following a positive opinion from Europe.

Charles Butt, president and CEO of Forbes Medi-Tech​, said: "We believe that Europe offers a substantial opportunity for Forbes' cholesterol-lowering ingredients due to the distinct marketing advantage of our non-GMO sourcedsterols."

The company is currently the world's largest manufacturer of non-genetically modified sourced sterols. They are extracted from by-products of the forestry industry.

Related topics Antioxidants/carotenoids

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